News from Japan – Week 50

Already Week 50, the year is almost coming to a close. By the way, 2020 is one of a few rare occasions where we have 53 weeks in a year instead of the usual 52, for one reason or another. It’s got something to do with leap-years, I think. Anyways, here are this week’s news, as ever with commentary by yours truly. As is to be expected, Corona continues to rear its ugly head all over the world and Japan is no exception. But I thought we’ve heard enough about that for the time being, so this week I’ll not be featuring any articles on Corona (I’ve written a dedicated piece about the situation in Japan yesterday if you are interested). 

Instead, we’ll start this week’s news with news about Japans space program. Some of you might not be familiar with it (I certainly wasn’t), but Japan has a state space agency which has been launching spacecraft to asteroids that pass by close to Earth, to study the make-up of these asteroids to learn more about the origin of life on Earth. I have to be honest; I am not very familiar with topics like these so I can’t provide too much insightful commentary. But the most recent spacecraft seems to have returned from its successful mission and samples collected from an asteroid have been retrieved by the Japanese space agency. Let’s hope that means something good for the rest of us too.

PhysOrg – Read the full article here

In other, more worldly news, Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) continues to boom across Japan. Since writing about this Anime last, I have actually tried to give it a watch, but to be honest I quit after two episodes. But clearly, the rest of the country is not in agreement with me as Kimetsu no Yaiba manga, merchandise is very popular, and the recently released film is among the highest-grossing movies in Japan ever, having recently overtaken Titanic in earnings after being released for just a few months. At the moment, only Studio Ghiblis Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) stands higher, making the top two films to be released in Japan both Anime. Personally, I believe that the timing of the release plays a big part in the success of the franchise.

KyodoNews – Read the full article here

Next, we continue the saga of “The Great British Baking Show”, and the failure of their “Japanese Week”. If you read the news on this blog regularly, you might remember this story from a few weeks back. For the uninformed: basically, a British TV show held a baking contest with a supposedly Japanese theme, but instead, the dishes that contestants were required to bake were mostly Chinese or from other cultures, with only very limited connections to Japanese cuisine. This led to online outrage (although these days, what doesn’t). Now we have a former contestant, coming out and saying the show ought to do “better research”. Frankly, I just included this because it is so bizarre. Feel free to read the whole article, apparently, there is online bullying and all sorts of controversies revolving around this show.

BusinessInsider – Read the full article here

Continuing on with food news, I found the following article very interesting, although it’s not really news. Tokyo’s Okubo neighbourhood (especially around Shin-Okubo Station) is traditionally famous as a hotspot of South-Korean culture and food. But other delights are to be found as well, as this article shows when it goes pretty in-depth about the only Ainu restaurant in Tokyo. It also talks briefly about the problematic past and the problems that the Ainu people, native inhabitants of Japans northern Island Hokkaido, have faced. Once Corona is dealt with, I’m definitely visiting this place if it’s still going.

Atlas Obscura – Read the full article here

I’ll leave it at that for this week. Just as an early announcement, I’ll be taking off the last week of 2020 and the first week of 2021, so there will be no news for week 53 and week 1. Let’s all hope that 2021 will be kinder to the world than 2020 was.

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